An Erkko Professor considers sustainable consumption

Alan Warde, a professor of the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, addresses sustainable consumption at the Collegium for Advanced Studies.

An Erkko Professor considers sustainable consumption

How can people be encouraged to make consumption choices that are sustainable for the environment? Alan Warde, who started as a professor of the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation at the Collegium for Advanced Studies, finds that awareness is not enough.

- Just increasing the amount of information will not result in better citizens. Instead, making good choices must be facilitated. Recycling, for example, became common only after it was made more convenient for households, says Warde.

Living environments must be modified in such a way that they in themselves already favour sustainable consumption. Decision-makers and the representatives of certain occupations have a key role.

- Homes must be built so that they promote sustainable consumption. Individual homeowners should not have the responsibility for this, but architects and building developers who, in addition to decision-makers, can affect the choices of millions of people, says Warde.

Progress cannot be stopped, and Warde estimates that consumption will not become any more sustainable. Wealthy countries do not want to change their operating methods, and consumerism is spreading globally. Technology is becoming more environmentally friendly, but that alone is not enough.

- Airplanes, for example, pollute less than before, but the number of flights has been substantially increased. People should start behaving differently so that the advantages of technology development could be harnessed.

Alan Warde is the second person to hold the Erkko Professorship. The professorship is particularly intended for the research of social justice and the future of the welfare society.

Alan Warde, Professor of the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, will give an open lecture on The Challenge of Making Consumption Sustainable on 6 October at 4:15 in hall 13 of the main building (Fabianinkatu 33).

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies » »

Text & photo: Tiina Palomäki
26.8.2010
Translation: AAC Global
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